Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Guilt and the Head F*ck. I refuse to allow food to bring me down.

Morning all ;)

Been thinking...you know why I fail 'diets' or even give up on healthy eating plans? Guilt. That emotion which makes us feel bad for wanting something sweet, greasy and junky, and then the way it niggles away at us if we do succumb to something 'forbidden'.

I really am convinced that unless you have a will of iron, depriving yourself of things you love really messes with your head. You can keep up the 'diet' (or healthy way of eating as I prefer to see it) for AGES..months, years even, and I am sure some people never again have the need for a pudding, a biscuit, a bar of chocolate, a sweet etc once they  hit their goal weight.  Those people have retrained their taste buds. I am not sure though that all overweight people get to that stage..even when the weight is lost.

I suspect most overweight people have a real determination when starting out on a fat-busting regime - shifting the blubber. Something snaps and we decide enough is enough, and set of on a way of life involving us, the fridge, the cooker, the food cupboards and the supermarket and shedding the coat of fat that we loathe, that makes life difficult and makes us despise what we see in the mirror. 'No more' we say angrily, as we set off with determination. For about the last four years I have been building up to doing something about it - and then I found weight-loss blogs. I have read some absolutely fantastic, brilliant blogs over the years - Pasta Queen's and Diet Girl's in particular (their books sit on my coffee table!) and I have thought "They are so strong, so determined" and as they have tackled their weight issues I have marvelled at their determination to make changes. Both have been so inspiring, as has Lyn over at Escape From Obesity. They have made me think..."I can do this. I don't have to remain a fat woman." They have been influential people. I have them to thank for my decision to become a slimmer version of me.

I have also realised that I can never be that strong. I have realised I am basically weak, very easy-going, and I dislike routine. I have realised that I am made differently...that guilt, want and deprivation mess with my head...and that when I become a blob of emotional fury because of deprivation, thinking about menus and constant planning, I give up on myself. I know 'me' very well. I am a laid back soul...I dislike hassle.

'Diets' per se don't work..not for me. End of. THAT has slowly hit me. We are lead to believe that there is only one way to lose weight - and it involves movement - which is fine and sensible, but it also involves food restriction. Now...when something becomes off-limits, it's magnetic powers, it's pull increases. I know it does for me. That's where diets don't work for me.....and it is all down to 'deprivation' and 'restriction'. That is my light-bulb moment.

I can make food restriction work for me though. Some foods have no power over me today....like fast foods. I can't remember my last takeaway meal. A McDonalds burger might as well be made of rubber. I don't want one and don't feel in the least bit deprived in not having one. I told myself every day as I drove nearby - it's on a route I frequently take - that my car couldn't make the right turn into McDonalds and I did it over and over again...I drove on by, telling myself I could have a big sandwich (of anything!) when I got home. Why waste money on junk? Perhaps the cost was the motivator - I don't know. I did this until I didn't want to steer in that direction, nor did I want to eat the grease they were serving up. I may have a burger again one day, who knows. I just see them as something I don't particularly want now. My 'healthy sandwich thought' won the day...it might be every bit as calorific but in the 'thought' battle, the wholemeal sandwich versus burger battle, the 'sandwich thought' won.

I have no desire to count points, to weigh foods, to call food 'syns', to look up calorific values or play 'games' with this eating malarkey. I want food, I want to eat, I don't want to feel guilt or to have to pull myself back from the brink, but I also want to lose weight. I need to lose weight for the sake of my health, if nothing else.

My plan is never to get to the brink...never to feel I have failed, given in to temptation and am some sort of freaky fat failure because the taste of something I love has been enjoyed.

That is just one massive head fuck and it screws us up...or it screws me up. This I have learned. I have known so many women (my sister included) who have gone to Weight Watchers, or embarked on a diet plan, a way of eating and have lost stones. They were dedicated and disciplined. They became slim. They also became fat again.

Why does this happen? I think it happens because a) they haven't trained their palates to really enjoy good wholesome foods as a way of life, b) they have to have 'portions' and a 'plan' to succeed - life doesn't work like that, and c) they have seen so many foods as 'bad' things. Those foods have horns, red eyes, cloven hooves and a long tail with an arrow shaped end bit. Chocolate becomes Satan incarnate.

Spare me all that. I am not going down that road.

I appreciate that some people can't work like that - that a nibble of a bar of chocolate just isn't going to work...a binge will follow. That happens to me in others ways, because some foods, like chocolate, just don't tempt me.  I can eat junk though. I know that if there is a packet of biscuits in the house, I am bound to have one or two with every mug of tea I drink...and I'll finish them off in a few days...not all at once, but I will consume the lot, eventually. It's the same with cakes. I somehow have to loathe these items now? I can't have them again? I am not sure that is going to work. I feel my head immediately working it's way up to a 'Don't tell me what I can't eat woman!" tantrum. "I'll eat the lot...scoff, scoff, scoff...so there! Give me some more! See the cream and crumbs round my mouth. Ha ha. You lost. You failed. "

I have had to look at how I LIKE to eat. I don't think I can plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can plan for eating when I feel the urge, and satisfying that urge. Let me eat. I can stock my house full of healthy snackettes...and I can eat what I want when I want..in any amount. I can be plain greedy with hummus and pitta breads..but I know after I have toasted the third that I have filled myself up, behaved like a pitta-bread pig, but not too much damage has been done. I become conscious that I am pigging out on pitta bread...conscious of helping myself to 'one more' and maybe tomorrow I won't do that..one will suffice. I may learn that lesson. No guilt...no recriminations, but maybe a light bulb moment in my head. I still love me. I am not full of cake.

I CAN make changes to my way of life. I can make lots of small adjustments every single day. The main adjustment I have to make is the movement one. I have to embrace calorie burning and fat burning in the form of movement, not a severe and restrictive diet which has me climbing the walls and ultimately feeling like an out-of-control fat freak if I eat something I enjoy.

If the house is just full of nutritious things I like to eat I have no need for cakes and biscuits to take up residence, or bars of chocolate. I can though have a cake, like I did yesterday. Cake CAN be my friend. I was out all day, made healthy choices with food, gave up my white wine for water...and when we all sat down for a cuppa in the afternoon I HAD the small almond cake offered to me. One cake...and I looked on the packaging...although I may not in future. My one cake cost me 113 calories...I didn't want two cakes, I didn't feel the need to make or buy my own packet of cakes. I just enjoyed a cake. I didn't crave a cake, I didn't feel gulty for eating it. I bloody well enjoyed that sweet morsel. No recriminations. I wasn't 'bad'.

It works. A small treat, if I am able to control the amount of treat I eat, which I have discovered I can, actually helps me stay on plan. I don't want to see a little cake as satanic, as an enemy. No food is my enemy. My enemy is my lack of control, my greed and my love of sweet things and savoury things with little or no nutritional value. If I allow sweet things into my life occasionally, they lose power over me. If I eat when I feel the need, I am nourishing my body. There are no restrictions to punish me.

This morning I have had a banana first thing, before rushing off in the morning traffic with son. I told a friend later and she was horrified. "Oh no! Don't choose bananas...they are so calorific" she urged. "Fuck off neurotic" I thought in return. I smiled and said "I like bananas. They are sweet and packed full of vitamins and minerals. They are good for me and they satisfy my sweet tooth. Aren't they a 'super food'?" I think she pitied  me. Madness or what?

She is a 'dieting' woman. I came home, put the washing on, drank a glass of water and opened the fridge. Normal fat person behaviour. I took out a light Baby Bel cheese. Urge for something gooey, rubbery, cheesy, chunky and flavourful fulfilled. I ate four little tomatoes with it..they were chewy and sweet...and slightly 'acidic'. They left my mouth 'clean' Hunger satisfied, need to eat soothed, easily. I like thinking about the flavours in my mouth. I have a whole range of foods to choose from when I next choose to exercise my jaw. I have to know I have good foods I can put together to make up a healthy meal, and that is as far as my planning goes.

I guess we have to accept that we over-eat, but it's really hard to stop doing that because we are on a 'diet'. I like to eat. All fat people like to eat.

Banish the goo, the junk from your house..that's all you have to do. Then eat.....pig out on good stuff, and feel virtuous about changing in that small way. See no foods as BAD. Enjoy the odd treat when it is offered - just ensure you have the control to stop at a single treat. That calls for determination, but it's do-able. It's about eating normally..and that is the lesson I must learn. My taste buds have been retrained, slowly over the years...now I am thinking about my buying behaviour - I don't buy things I will pig out on...nor will I give them to my sons. Strength is needed in the supermarket, but when I get home with the wholemeal bread, or the gorgeous granary bread, or the pumpkin and sunflower seed oaty loaf, I may have a slice of toast and honey if I want it...right there, right then. Two slices even. No restrictions except the banishment of junk from the house. My lesson might be "OK, I have had my bread today...and my (low fat) spread. That was really good. I've had enough bread for now." Head is OK with this. No tantrums. Head might be purring and stroking the inside of my skull. Patting my neck bones...I don't know lol :)  But it isn't fighting me.

I know what works for one won't work for others...but I am finding, through blogging that all foods can be on my side. I can be on my side too...by exercising control and choice and by learning to love myself. I refuse to screw my head up by being on a 'diet' and by constantly telling myself  'I can't have that'. Yes, it might be lax, but by doing just that and upping the exercise a bit more (no out and out sweaty sessions at the gym) ...having two episodes of eating out and going for puddings or cakes afterwards...I lost 4lbs last week. OK, so it's early days. I dare say my progress will be slow, but I want to learn to love and cherish myself along the weight-loss path. If my head is fucked up by constant denial, I am a lesser person, playing a temporary weight-loss game. There is no point in doing that.

That is me.

This is for life.

I hope you find a way of losing weight which works for you, long term, and doesn't cause you daily anguish. Isn't that the key?

Have a good Tuesday folks.


  1. Grumpy: This is some really good self-reflection. I agree that deprivation is NOT the answer. Portion size is important and making "different" choices when possible is critical too.

    I too am sick of the guilt trip. Been there, done that. It is a yawner. Carry on. Jo

  2. P.S. what happened to your photo?

  3. Hi Jo :) You have nailed it - it's about making good choices and not dining out on guilt if we find ourselves drawn to junk. Have an alternative to junk...which is just as good. Eat when you need to eat.

    As for the photo I took it down because I had an email from a former work colleague - one I didn't particularly know very well - telling me he'd found me and was reading me. I just felt a bit spooked out - and vulnerable with showing my face. I tend to be quite blunt and honest and perhaps showing a side of myself which doesn't come out in formal work situations!? Does that make sense?

    I think there is no point writing a blog if I am not honest and that entails laying bare my soul, my inner thoughts. Fellow dieters might get it, but former work colleagues, with no interest in losing weight? I thought about making my blog a private one - not open to all. It's almost like voyeurism. I am pulling down the blinds :)I'll dig out the camera and post a headless shot soon, of my misshapen body I mean - for 'before' and 'after' shots. That will definitely put people off! :)

    PS: I do hope I'll be able to post 'after' shots!

  4. Amen to everything you wrote - your plan MUST be something that works for YOU. I quite agree that it's a 'plan for life' not a quick-fix 'diet' that'll get you to where you want to be.

    I'll look forward to the contrast between the 'before' and 'after' shots - brave lass!